The long-term plan for The Point proposes physical improvements like brick sidewalks and acorn lights, essentially extending the historic character of Salem’s center southward.
Lucy Corchado, president of the Point Neighborhood Association, said an additional difficulty the street has faced in attracting and retaining businesses was the fact that business owners often didn’t have a good grasp of the array of loan assistance programs offered by the city.
“I don’t think there are that many people who know about it, or how to apply,” she said. “It’s just now getting the word out to folks.”
Northcutt agreed with that assessment, saying that both current and potential business owners need to be educated about getting financial assistance from the city.
“I think a lot of times those resources go unused because people don’t know about them,” he said.
Northcutt said the planning is intended to be driven by public input. At least two public meetings will be held before the project is wrapped up by year’s end.
“The key for us is having the community involved in that process,” he said.
Also involved in the planning are Latino Leadership Coalition members and Isabel Vargas, Salem’s Latino affairs coordinator, all of whom are expected to be pivotal in making contact with the public and local business owners.
In addition to encouraging new growth, the plan will seek to avoid displacing existing businesses and residents.
Salem also recently received $100,000 from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston for work on The Point, but officials are still determining exactly what that money will be used for.
Neil H. Dempsey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.